Wednesday, January 12, 2011

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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tourism in Nepal From Treks To Sex

“I CAN only dance when I'm drunk,” confides Srijana, a 20-year-old employee of the Pussy Cat Bar and Shower, a tavern in Thamel, Kathmandu's main tourist hangout. A few slurps from a customer's glass later and she mounts a small stage. There, to whoops from a few tipsy locals, she sheds most of her clothes and gyrates to a Hindi pop tune. Dangling above her is the Damoclean sword included in the bar's name: a silver shower nozzle, positioned to spray flesh-revealing water on a dancer below.
Such gimmicks are common in Thamel's bars, where competition for lascivious males is fierce. Until a few years ago Nepal had no obvious sex industry. There are now an estimated 200 massage parlours and 35 “dance bars”, such as the Pussy Cat, in Thamel alone—with over 1,000 girls and women working in them. Many sell sex. In the Pussy Cat, another dancer admits to turning tricks, for 1,800 rupees ($28).
That is a tidy sum in Nepal, South Asia's poorest country. It is much more than Nepali women are paid in India's flesh-pots—to which over 5,000 are trafficked each year, according to the UN. But the dancers in Thamel are chasing a richer sort of Indian: tourists. And their government seems to be encouraging them. In an advertisement for “Wild Stag Weekends”, the Nepal Tourism Board offers this advice: “Don't forget to have a drink at one of the local dance bars, where beautiful Nepali belles will dance circles around your pals.”

In a country with a rich tradition of dance, where paying for sex is illegal, this might be harmless innuendo. But not everybody thinks so. During the recently-ended civil war, Nepal's Himalayan tourism industry collapsed. Some activists think that sex tourism is replacing it. According to John Frederick, an expert on South Asia's sex trade, “Ten years ago the sex industry was underground in Nepal. Now it's like Bangkok, it's like Phnom Penh.”
The war, which put much of rural Nepal under the control of Maoist insurgents, has increased the supply of sex workers. Srijana is from the poor and still violent district of Siraha in southern Nepal. She was widowed there two years ago, and left an infant son to come to the capital. Yet she is remarkably cheerful—perhaps because she is drunk, and the shower is not working.

Same-sex marriage

Same-sex marriage (also called gay marriage)is a legally or socially recognized marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Same-sex marriage is a civil rights, political, social, moral, and religious issue in many nations. The conflicts arise over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to enter into marriage, be required to use a different status (such as a civil union, which either grant equal rights as marriage or limited rights in comparison to marriage), or not have any such rights. A related issue is whether the term marriage should be applied.

‘Prostitutes’ or ‘sex workers’?

Although the word ‘prostitution’ can be used to describe the act of selling sex, it can also mean ‘using a skill or ability in a way that is considered shameful’. It seems to include a moral judgement, by implying that individuals who sell sex are involved in a practice that is corrupt and so are themselves unworthy. A far more neutral and respectful alternative is the term ‘sex work’.
This issue may not matter so much in the context of everyday conversations or casual debates, but in serious discussions on the topic it is important that words are chosen carefully. Since this article seeks to discuss the issue of HIV and sex work in an open and non-judgemental way, we refer to sex workers rather than prostitutes.
The term 'sex worker' refers to a wide array of people who sell sex, and who work in a variety of environments. They include women, men and transgender people and people who may work either full time or part time, in brothels, or bars, on the street or from home for example.

Taking sex education forward

Providing effective sex education can seem daunting because it means tackling potentially sensitive issues and involving a variety of people – parents, schools, community groups and health service providers. However, because sex education comprises many individual activities, which take place across a wide range of settings and periods of time, there are lots of opportunities to contribute.
The nature of a person's contribution depends on their relationship, role and expertise in relation to young people. For example, parents are best placed in relation to young people to provide continuity of individual support and education starting from early in their lives. School-based education programmes are particularly good at providing information and opportunities for skills development and attitude clarification in more formal ways, through lessons within a curriculum. Community-based projects provide opportunities for young people to access advice and information in less formal ways. Sexual health and other health and welfare services can provide access to specific information, support and advice. Sex education through the mass media, often supported by local, regional or national Government and non-governmental agencies and departments, can help to raise public awareness of sex health issues.

When should parents start talking to young people about sex?

Sometimes it can be difficult for adults to know when to raise issues, but the important thing is to maintain an open relationship with children which provides them with opportunities to ask questions when they have them. Parents and carers can also be proactive and engage young people in discussions about sex, sexuality and relationships. Naturally, many parents and their children feel embarrassed about talking about some aspects of sex and sexuality. Viewing sex education as an on-going conversation about values, attitudes and issues as well as providing facts can be helpful. The best basis to proceed on is a sound relationship in which a young person feels able to ask a question or raise an issue if they feel they need to. It has been shown that in countries like The Netherlands, where many families regard it as an important responsibility to talk openly with children about sex and sexuality, this contributes to greater cultural openness about sex and sexuality and improved sexual health among young people.

Effective school-based sex education

School-based sex education can be an important and effective way of enhancing young people's knowledge, attitudes and behaviour. There is widespread agreement that formal education should include sex education and what works has been well-researched. Evidence suggests that effective school programmes will include the following elements:
  • A focus on reducing specific risky behaviours
  • A basis in theories which explain what influences people's sexual choices and behaviour
  • A clear, and continuously reinforced message about sexual behaviour and risk reduction
  • Providing accurate information about, the risks associated with sexual activity, about contraception and birth control, and about methods of avoiding or deferring intercourse
  • Dealing with peer and other social pressures on young people; providing opportunities to practise communication, negotiation and assertion skills
  • Uses a variety of approaches to teaching and learning that involve and engage young people and help them to personalise the information
  • Uses approaches to teaching and learning which are appropriate to young people's age, experience and cultural background
  • Is provided by people who believe in what they are saying and have access to support in the form of training or consultation with other sex educators
Formal programmes with all these elements have been shown to increase young people's levels of knowledge about sex and sexuality, put back the average age at which they first have sexual intercourse and decrease risk when they do have sex.
In addition to this, effective sex education is supported by links to sexual health services  and takes into account the messages about sexual values and behaviour young people get from other sources (such as friends and the media). It is also responsive to the needs of the young people themselves - whether they are girls or boys, on their own or in a single sex or mixed sex group, and what they know already, their age and experiences.
In 2010 the UK missed an important opportunity to introduce structured, compulsory sex and relationship education in all English state schools. The measure, seen by many as controversial, had been designed by government to ensure all 15 year olds would receive sex education. The Labour Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls MP, described his disappointment that political opponents "could not agree to make personal, social and health education satutory